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I have felt strangely contemplative over the past few days. At those times of year when things calm down I like to take stock of where I am and where I plan to be, and today especially I have cast my beady eye into the distant future and tried to divine what might life might be like in over a decade’s time, or, to be more precise, what I would like my life to be like.

You always need to know where your road is leading you.

There is no doubt that this past year has been more successful than I had dared hope it might be, the mere fact that I am able to prolong this off-work escapade into at least another year being a triumph in itself. As I have totted up the figures over the past week or so, however, it has become apparent to me that this first year of freelance composing, traditionally the time when most start-up businesses fail, may well be the toughest I will have to encounter. The reasons are many, and not necessarily for discussion here, but I harbour genuine optimism that I have weathered the most difficult part of my freelance career, and that I am set fair for the near and more distant future.

Survival is the first priority of the new freelancer. After that it is time to look further afield.

I am continuing to write at a decent pace, and must admit to being a real fan of the summer lifestyle I am enjoying at the moment. The latest work, for choir and organ, is pretty much written, only the cosmetic work needing to be done, and it could even be complete by tomorrow evening if I do not get distracted during the day. I feel that my writing has become slightly more free in the composing of this piece, though only time will tell whether this is a momentary sideways shuffle or a genuine shift in my style.

Stylistic change is probably best as evolution rather than revolution. Here’s a picture of Tin Machine.

I also heard back from the commissioner and dedicatee of Everyone Sang today (the same person, in case you were wondering). I always experience a flash of genuine fear when I receive emails from people who have just received the copy of the music I have written for them, hot from the hard drive. One day, I am sure, I will have missed the target substantially, and will have to deal with the associated disappointment and what it might mean to my compositional self-esteem, but until then I seem to be there or thereabouts when it comes to fulfilling a commissioner’s requirements. Everyone Sang seems to have hit the mark, the message describing the piece as “wonderful” for starters, and going on to be effusively generous in its appreciation of the music. To be honest, I like the piece as well, which is something of a rarity for me, so there are smiles all round with this one, a happy ending, and we are aiming for a first performance towards the end of September.

Siegfried Sassoon. Being given permission to set his poetry is one thing, doing it justice quite another.

This whole writing business is certainly curious. A composer friend once told me that he wrote the kind of music he wanted to listen to, and I replied that I wrote the kind of music I wanted to write. It is a strange distinction, but it does mean that I do not always enjoy listening to my own pieces. Everyone Sang is certainly one of the exceptions to the rule as far as this is concerned.